Eve Online Battleships

Welcome to EVE Online: the spaceship game where astronauts live out their imperial fantasies | Toys

aThe roars of revelers reverberate around rowdy Reykjavik, you’d be forgiven if you thought this was your average Friday night. However, among the bearded Icelanders quietly sipping on Einstock are a different kind of Sharpie: the elite intergalactic multiplayer spaceship game EVE Online. On one weekend in May each year, this island becomes the playground of the world’s most devoted gaming community.

For those who don’t know their Caldari Minmatar, EVE Online is a highly complex player-driven video game that is a virtual spaceship sandbox where – in the right hands – spreadsheets are as powerful as space fleets. Its complex history was written by its players, with many fascinating tales of wars, betrayals and robberies. Since game developers rarely get involved, EVE is an experience that is often less like a video game and more like a libertarian social one. As such, it attracts a highly intellectual and motivated player base.

EVE’s warring groups of players – or companies – are usually restricted to windows and Discord chats, however, as 350 players from 40 countries roam this Atlantic island, the fantasy world of EVE becomes very real. In the crowd, drinks were poured and jokes were exchanged by flag-waving alliance members. By the time the last bar closed the infamous Reykjavik pub crawl on Vanfest, some long-running rivalries had been settled, while whispers of interstellar betrayals emerged from the dark corners.

For many of EVE Online’s 50 million gamers, this complex virtual world is simply another space to succeed in. The real-world experience of stock trading, marketing and graphic design makes you a solid asset to player-managed companies – and a significant portion of EVE’s player base is hugely successful outside of the game.

“I’ve been at Disney for a long time — 16 years,” says Dunk Dinkle, interim CEO of Brave Collective, an in-game group with more than 8,500 members. “Now, I’m at NBC, where I oversee technology for their marketing group.” For Dinkle, EVE Online has slowly transitioned from a hobby to a second job, heading up the ever-growing Galactic Fleet. “If you are a leader, the game will never stop,” he says. “You wake up and there’s a whole new list of problems. Australians are angry at Europeans, and you have to deal with them. It’s like working this way.”

EVE Online’s most influential players often find that this tempting, complex virtual space slowly begins to demand more of their time in the real world. “It’s about that balance between relaxation and responsibility. In the morning, I spend 45 minutes to an hour just checking my slacks and EVEs to catch up,” says Dinkle. “I go to work, I come home, and for two to three hours, I check in. When it’s a big fight, we’ll be up all night.”

For Dunk, the appeal of EVE seems to be that it’s not just a short distraction, it’s a way to relax for a while, as video games are suitable for most gamers. Instead, it is a place where his professional skills are highly rewarded.

“A lot of these skills for being a corporate CEO — going to events, managing conflicts, allocating resources, and scheduling — you use at EVE,” he says. “In your career, it’s hard to feel these gains on a regular basis. If you’re a high achiever, you want this reward system. In TV, it’s a vicious cycle that never ends. You always need another promotion. At EVE you built this The giant thing that not many people can do. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I feel that feeling in my career, sure, but not once a week.”

While EVE markets itself in incredible space battles, for the financial brethren who are flocking to the game, the cutting-edge simulated economy is the real draw. EVE is often called “Space Spreadsheets”. During this year’s Fanfest, CCP announced an official partnership with Microsoft Excel, to standing ovations.

“EVE looks like a trade,” says investment expert OZ_Eve, AKA Jari Vilhjalmer. “I can pull data, look for trends, create widgets around… I have a big Bloomberg terminal widget that I look at in the morning to see where the market is. There is no other game where you can do that.”

Combat power … battleships online. Photo: CCP

With his financial background, Vilhjalmer became the most successful private investor in EVE, teaching other players how to accumulate via the popular Twitchstreams. “I was playing the game to be the richest player – and it worked,” he says. “I can’t compete in the space battle, but I can take everyone’s money.”

When it comes to wielding influence, we all know that real power lies in governance – and where would a hypothetical society be without its politicians? “Before I traveled here, I was trying to resist a proposal passed by the Senate. That’s how I spend the days. Then I go at night to play EVE Online,” says Brisk Raubal, a Virgin Maritime Union attorney and lobbyist who served in the Bush administration.

“I’ve been in Washington for about 25 years,” says Raubal. “I’ve been holding elections in Virginia’s largest county for two years, and this was my trick when I first ran for the EVE Players Council: I’m the realpolitik running for EVE’s political body.”

Raubal’s tenure as part of the EVE in-game board has been controversial. Elected EVE players are privy to the game’s secret changes, which means board members know important details that can be leveraged to influence the market and make money in the real world. It’s a gold mine for insider trading – a crime with which Raubal was charged.

The scandal tarnished his image in the real world, too. “My wife lost clients at work, Fox News called, and the Washington Post was asking my office for comment. It was crazy. I had to explain to my 83-year-old boss why the press was calling me.” Well, boss, I’m playing this video game, And I’ve been charged with some things, but I’m working on them.”

Fortunately for Raubal, he managed to solve the problem. After finding the evidence to clear his name, his player was eventually recalculated, and in 2020 he ran again – successfully.

EVE is home to not only businessmen and politicians, it has spiritual leaders as well. “I’ve married people, given funerals, and had blessed children,” says Charles White, better known as the Space Daddy. In the Lessons Learned section of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, White’s daily mission is to comb through fatal errors from previous space missions, and publish reports that could help save lives on the next lunar flight. He also likes to wear papal robes.

“It’s so much fun,” White smiles, and his cloaked silent student next to him is seated. When he came to EVE Online at the age of 54, he quickly found himself giving life advice to younger players. With his perceived wisdom, dedication, and friendliness, one of the players made a selfie of him as the Pope. White embraced her, climbing to his first mass feast in full papal garb. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Because I’m hyper-stressed, I play a high-stress game,” White says. “Not that giant leap between the two. If I miss EVE, it’s exhausting. It has the same adrenaline that keeps me going, but without serious consequences. I could lose my entire Keepstar.” [citadel] And I laugh at her, and that’s what draws me to EVE.”

It’s EVE’s unique brand of space press that appeals to another real-life rocket scientist, Scott, better known as Ithica Hawk. While he’s reluctant to reveal too many details about his role in fear of “immersion,” he does work with some very important satellites. While playing around with essential technology by day, at EVE he is an award-winning space pilot, and a famous face in the community. After hosting several events at the EVE Fanfest, Scott says the game gave him a confidence he didn’t know he had.

EVE Online Mining Fleet
Aerospace Industry … EVE Online Mining Fleet. Photo: CCP

“When I was younger, I was very shy, and now I’m on stage in front of hundreds of people and doing tournaments that are broadcast to thousands. I’ve found I’m pretty good at it, and I wouldn’t have had any chance to try it if it wasn’t for Eve.”

As someone who has run companies, Scott sees the ability to motivate hundreds of people as one of EVE’s most important transferable skills: “That’s a massive amount of people management. It’s basically a mid-sized business, but people are paying to be there. If you don’t deliver, it’s going to fall apart. Everything. EVE companies are probably more difficult to manage than actual companies.”

Much like the EVE space daddy uses a stunt he never really dared at NASA, another allure of this tempting sandbox for law-abiding people is the space it provides for the hypothetical villain.

“Most people decide that you can’t be the bad guy in real life, but in Eve you are Can Rapal says. “Mittany is probably the most famous player of all time, and he’s a great guy.” Alex “the Mittani” Gianturco, a Washington, DC attorney, is EVE’s resident troublemaker, responsible for starting wars, organizing year-long spy missions, and allegedly bribing game developers and leading EVE’s most feared alliance: Goonswarm.

“[Mittani] He gets to role-play as the big mean tyrant. Have you ever wanted to play Darth Vader in Star Wars? Well, here you get the ability to do that. I think that’s what attracts people to EVE as well: You can do whatever you want in a way that you’ll never get away with in real life.”

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